How to Talk to a Science Denier
Coming August 31
Can we change the minds of science deniers? Encounters with flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, coronavirus truthers, and others.
“Climate change is a hoax—and so is coronavirus.” “Vaccines are bad for you.” These days, many of our fellow citizens reject scientific expertise and prefer ideology to facts. They are not merely uninformed—they are misinformed. They cite cherry-picked evidence, rely on fake experts, and believe conspiracy theories. How can we convince such people otherwise? How can we get them to change their minds and accept the facts when they don’t believe in facts? In this book, Lee McIntyre shows that anyone can fight back against science deniers, and argues that it’s important to do so. Science denial can kill.
Drawing on his own experience—including a visit to a Flat Earth convention—as well as academic research, McIntyre outlines the common themes of science denialism, present in misinformation campaigns ranging from tobacco companies’ denial in the 1950s that smoking causes lung cancer to today’s anti-vaxxers. He describes attempts to use his persuasive powers as a philosopher to convert Flat Earthers; surprising discussions with coal miners; and conversations with a scientist friend about genetically modified organisms in food. McIntyre offers tools and techniques for communicating the truth and values of science, emphasizing that the most important way to reach science deniers is to talk to them calmly and respectfully—to put ourselves out there, to meet them face to face.
Praise for How to Talk to a Science Denier
“Lee McIntyre is one of our strongest voices combating pseudoscience, superstition, fake-news, and alternative facts that have become disturbingly prevalent in recent years. It has become evident that facts alone are not enough to convince science deniers to change their minds. What does work then? McIntyre reviews the literature on what we know about the psychology of belief and what strategies work, and recounts his many colorful adventures talking to deniers. Destined to be a classic in the philosophy of science.”
—Michael Shermer, Publisher Skeptic magazine, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author of The Moral Arc, Heavens on Earth, and other titles